Man accused of setting fire to Biloxi church charged with arson

Man accused of setting fire to Biloxi church charged with arson
The pastor tells us the fire did minor damage to the front door area of the church, and no one was inside the building when the fire ignited. (Photo source: WLOX)
The pastor tells us the fire did minor damage to the front door area of the church, and no one was inside the building when the fire ignited. (Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Biloxi man has been arrested in connection to a fire that damaged the front doors of a church Thursday morning. According to Biloxi police, Hung Dung Nguyen, 47, has been charged with arson.

According to witnesses, what happened during the blaze shows the strength of the surrounding community.

For a while, the scene at the Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church on Oak St. was one of flashing lights and busy investigators. The events of the morning were still fresh on the mind of witnesses.

"It was big. It was like a big old bonfire," said Ashleigh Tickell.

According to Tickell's account, she was walking by the church when the fire started. She noticed it taking over the front steps of the church.

The fire isn't the only thing Tickell said was out of the ordinary.

"I saw this man on the property, and next thing I know, there's this big blaze, and he starts walking a bit from the property," said Tickell.

She immediately called 911 and reported the suspicious activity. She said it didn't take long for first responders to arrive, but before they did, Tickell said something amazing happened.

The pastor of the church saw the blaze from across the street, and jumped into action while others joined in to fight the flames.

"He went and grabbed the hose, and everybody else starting grabbing buckets, and everybody started dousing as much water as they could," said Tickell.

Their efforts were not in vain. According to fire officials, the flames were already extinguished by the time they arrived. Rev. Thang Pham said instinct took over as soon as he saw the fire.

"That was the only thing I was thinking in my mind. I need water," said Pham.

With no one hurt and only minor damage to the church building, Pham was simply counting his blessings.

"God has his plan. He let me see that," said Pham.

Investigator Grandver Everett said witnesses pointed officers in the direction of Nguyen, and he was later arrested. His bond was set at $50,000.

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